A selection of the latest headlines and best researches on sustainable development, climate change, cleantech and the world energy sector.

Protecting Nature as it is protecting us

Protecting biodiversity would protect in an important way Mankind itself. This is the conclusion of the book Sustaining Life, How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity.

Written by two Medical Doctors of the Harvard Medical School – Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein – this book seem to be a must read.

As a matter of fact, no less than the United Nations Environment Programme’s website proposed a very enthusiastic review of it.

As the Oxford University Press states :

The Earth’s biodiversity-the rich variety of life on our planet-is disappearing at an alarming rate. And while many books have focused on the expected ecological consequences, or on the aesthetic, ethical, sociological, or economic dimensions of this loss, Sustaining Life is the first book to examine the full range of potential threats that diminishing biodiversity poses to human health.

Edited and written by Harvard Medical School physicians Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, along with more than 100 leading scientists who contributed to writing and reviewing the book, Sustaining Life presents a comprehensive–and sobering–view of how human medicines, biomedical research, the emergence and spread of infectious diseases, and the production of food, both on land and in the oceans, depend on biodiversity.

The book’s ten chapters cover everything from what biodiversity is and how human activity threatens it to how we as individuals can help conserve the world’s richly varied biota.

Seven groups of organisms, some of the most endangered on Earth, provide detailed case studies to illustrate the contributions they have already made to human medicine, and those they are expected to make if we do not drive them to extinction.

Drawing on the latest research, but written in language a general reader can easily follow, Sustaining Life argues that we can no longer see ourselves as separate from the natural world, nor assume that we will not be harmed by its alteration. Our health, as the authors so vividly show, depends on the health of other species and on the vitality of natural ecosystems.

For more details on this book, I strongly recommend you to read the UNEP’s article on it ( Biodiversity Loss? It Will Make You Sick ) as it provides a lot of data taken straight from the book.

Here is the introduction of this most interesting article :

A new generation of antibiotics, new treatments for thinning bone disease and kidney failure, and new cancer treatments may all stand to be lost unless the world acts to reverse the present alarming rate of biodiversity loss a new landmark book says.

The natural world holds secrets to the development of new kinds of safer and more powerful pain-killers; treatments for a leading cause of blindness- macular degeneration- and possibly ways of re-growing lost tissues and organs by, for example studying newts and salamanders.

But, the experts warn that we may lose many of the land and marine-based life forms of economic and medical interest before we can learn their secrets, or, in some cases, before we know they exist.

The new book, ‘Sustaining Life’, is the most comprehensive treatment of this subject to date and fills a major gap in the arguments made to conserve nature.

It seems to be a very interesting book and believe me, if I had more time and less things to read already I would read its 550+ pages anytime soon.

But if you do so before me, please tell me about it as I would gladly read your comments !

Sustaining Life, How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity.
Oxford University Press | 568 pages | $34.95 or 24 €

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2 Comments
  1. Thanks Edouard for the great link, and for your comment on La Marguerite. As I wrote, I am just turning my attention to this most important topic, after one year of intensive blogging. That in itself shows the extent of the problem! Biodiversity is just not a sexy topic, and that is very very unfortunate!

    http://lamarguerite.wordpress.com/2008/08/14/whats-wrong-with-biodiversity/

  2. oh yeah… But I wouldn’t say that the energy / environment equation is sexy either. Let us say it is easier understandable for the masses.

    Keep up the good work Marguerite. Your blog really is a major source of data and thinking for me. All the best !

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A French Management professional - now for hire - Edouard Stenger has been selecting since 2007 the latest headlines and best researches on sustainable development, climate change, environmental issues, cleantech and the world energy sector.

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We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. — Native American Proverb